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Subject: A new term for our hobby . . . indie boardgames rss

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Barton Campbell
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For me I compare our hobby, analogy wise, to the music industry (I'm also a musician but you don't have to be to understand what I'm talking about). If someone asks what is my hobby? I wouldn't say just "music". The word "music" is so broad and general it would effectively convey zero information. The problem with, I'm into "games" or "boardgames" is similar, too broad. Now in the music industry there is the interesting differentiation between commercial music and indie music. Commercial music being Michael Jackson and company (pop music) and indie music being (originally) rock or near rock music put out by small labels but now meaning "not so glitzy and highly produced" or some such.

In boardgaming "commercial boardgames" would obviously be Monopoly, Risk, Clue, Startego, The Game of Life, Battleship etc,

while "indie boardgames" would be euros, wargames and the rest.

So, yeah, I'm into "indie boardgames".

It's strength is it's intuitive, you know exactly what I'm talking about when you hear it. At least they know I'm not talking about Monopoly. If they ask what are indie boardgames, I say "educational games". :laugh:Ha. If they're a little more serious I explain that I'm into "strategy games". You may not like it but that's what I do and I find that it works.
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Where I am (Portland, OR) labeling one's product as "indie music" is often regarded as pretentious and exclusive.

Plus I don't really consider companies like FFG to produce products that are "not so glitzy and highly produced".
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I presumed immediately that you meant small press type games where there are 100 in the world and they look like they got run off of a home printer.

Likewise, some of the 'commerical' games you mention are actually quite deep, they're just ingrained in our culture. Every 'commercial' game you mention also happens to be Parker Brothers/Hasboro/Milton Bradley, all of whom started as 'independant' printing shops and just happened to market their products very well.

Many of the big game manufacturers, such as Steve Jackson, Mayfair, Rio Grande and the like are very much 'commercial', but they may not be 'main stream'.

So... thanks but no thanks. I don't want my games being compared to a bellybutton.
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From now on I am going to call my car a Freizhenwobbler.

Just sounds better, right?

Oh. What? You're saying I can't just declare new terms and have to let a public knowledge of language guide definition and jargon.

Darn.
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Peter
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I think the term your looking for is 'Hobby Gaming' or 'Hobby Games'.

Denoting the lower production run, non-mainstream games that are very popular among geeks of this site and many other avid 'gamers' world wide. 'Indie' generally being short for independent, tends to refer to production entities which do not have access to mass production, often do not use union or established employees in the industry, often use lower cost materials production methods, etc.

I agree with the fact that I don't consider Days of Wonder, Fantasy Flight Games, Wizards of the Coast, etc. as indie game producers but I certainly consider their products Hobby Games.
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Thumb for avatar there Astinex.
 
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Gabe Alvaro
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Wow! Why didn't I think of that?!



I'm being serious. When I started our game group 3 years ago I struggled to come up with an attractive, instantly intuitive way of describing the games we most wanted to play to those who were unfamiliar but might be interested. I used "euro", "designer", "german-style" and the problem was that each of those required further explanation.

Those who knew about the games already could certainly interpret "euro" or "designer" or "german-style, but for those who are clueless, "Indie" might definitely get the point across enough for them to make positive associations with things that are not mainstream and aim more at quality. Brilliant!
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Barton Campbell
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ElAdoranSureshot wrote:
Where I am (Portland, OR) labeling one's product as "indie music" is often regarded as pretentious and exclusive.

Plus I don't really consider companies like FFG to produce products that are "not so glitzy and highly produced".

Obviously, a lot of indie games are glitzy and highly produced. But I wasn't talking about boardgames in that definition . . . I was talking about MUSIC.

With boardgames I gave my definition ... "Not Commercial Games".

"Indie music is regarded as pretentious and exclusive". Great, but are "indie boardgames" considered pretentious and exclusive in Portland, OR? Lets, not argue about the meanings of different definitions of music, we're talking about boardgames here.
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p55carroll
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A fine term for those whose hobby actually is playing indie boardgames. Wouldn't work for me, though, since some of the games I like best are traditional, public-domain games such as Dominoes, Chess, Backgammon, Go, and Traditional Card Games.

I also like and play some wargames, some Eurogames, and some other kinds of games. But I'm not about to exclude the games I like best from my name for "our hobby."
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bartman347 wrote:

But I wasn't talking about boardgames in that definition . . .
I was talking about MUSIC.
Lets, not argue about the meanings of different definitions of music,
we're talking about boardgames here.


Which is it again?
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Barton Campbell
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byronczimmer wrote:
I presumed immediately that you meant small press type games where there are 100 in the world and they look like they got run off of a home printer.

Likewise, some of the 'commerical' games you mention are actually quite deep, they're just ingrained in our culture. Every 'commercial' game you mention also happens to be Parker Brothers/Hasboro/Milton Bradley, all of whom started as 'independant' printing shops and just happened to market their products very well.

Many of the big game manufacturers, such as Steve Jackson, Mayfair, Rio Grande and the like are very much 'commercial', but they may not be 'main stream'.

So... thanks but no thanks. I don't want my games being compared to a bellybutton.

Your missing my point. "Mainstream" is a perfect word instead of "commercial". The point is the hobby is not really about the mainstream games, in that case "fringe or niche boardgames" might express better what your talking about. Let's not split straws ad infinitum. Let's work together on this, not "take that you creep".
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Gabe Alvaro
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bartman347 wrote:
Your missing my point. "Mainstream" is a perfect word instead of "commercial". The point is the hobby is not really about the mainstream games, in that case "fringe or niche boardgames" might express better what your talking about. Let's not split straws ad infinitum. Let's work together on this, not "take that you creep".

I'm picking up what you're putting down bartman. It's all about audience (another thing the music industry understands really well). The label you suggest I think would work really well for an audience of open-minded people who are currently unaware of these games.

The audience for such a term would not be hair-splitting gamers, but those"normals" who have yet to discover these joys. I know they are out there. I've met quite a few of them!
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Barton Campbell
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
A fine term for those whose hobby actually is playing indie boardgames. Wouldn't work for me, though, since some of the games I like best are traditional, public-domain games such as Dominoes, Chess, Backgammon, Go, and Traditional Card Games.

I also like and play some wargames, some Eurogames, and some other kinds of games. But I'm not about to exclude the games I like best from my name for "our hobby."

Patrick is so right about the games he mentions and I would call those "traditional games". Traditional games are not commercial nor mainstream games and neither are they indie games. BTW, plenty of indie gamers play traditional and commercial games as well but I would never respond to the question, "what kind of games do you play?" with "Pinochle and chess, dominoes, you know, all kinds of games".
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Bill Eldard
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bartman347 wrote:
For me I compare our hobby, analogy wise, to the music industry (I'm also a musician but you don't have to be to understand what I'm talking about). If someone asks what is my hobby? I wouldn't say just "music". The word "music" is so broad and general it would effectively convey zero information. The problem with, I'm into "games" or "boardgames" is similar, too broad. Now in the music industry there is the interesting differentiation between commercial music and indie music. Commercial music being Michael Jackson and company (pop music) and indie music being (originally) rock or near rock music put out by small labels but now meaning "not so glitzy and highly produced" or some such.

In boardgaming "commercial boardgames" would obviously be Monopoly, Risk, Clue, Startego, The Game of Life, Battleship etc,


They are certainly sold to make money.

bartman347 wrote:
while "indie boardgames" would be euros, wargames and the rest.

So, yeah, I'm into "indie boardgames".


I disagree with your definitions, and here's why: The games published by Goldsieber, Rio Grande, Mayfair, Phalanx, Fantasy Flight, GMT, Avalanche, Asmodee, et al, are just as commercial as the games you named. They may not sell as well, but they are published to make money nonetheless.

bartman347 wrote:
It's strength is it's intuitive, you know exactly what I'm talking about when you hear it.


Maybe some folks would know what you're talking about, but until I read your first paragraph, I didn't have a clue. Maybe it's a generational thing; I was born before Stratego, the Game of Life, and Battleship were first published.

bartman347 wrote:
At least they know I'm not talking about Monopoly. If they ask what are indie boardgames, I say "educational games". laughHa.

If they're a little more serious I explain that I'm into "strategy games". You may not like it but that's what I do and I find that it works.


So, you start with indie games . . .

then you explain them as being educational games . . .

and you finish with describing them as strategy games.

OK. Let's see --

indie games . . .

educational games . . .

strategy games.

Why not cut to the chase by starting off with "I play strategy games" ?

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bartman347 wrote:
ElAdoranSureshot wrote:
Where I am (Portland, OR) labeling one's product as "indie music" is often regarded as pretentious and exclusive.

Plus I don't really consider companies like FFG to produce products that are "not so glitzy and highly produced".

Obviously, a lot of indie games are glitzy and highly produced. But I wasn't talking about boardgames in that definition . . . I was talking about MUSIC.

With boardgames I gave my definition ... "Not Commercial Games".

"Indie music is regarded as pretentious and exclusive". Great, but are "indie boardgames" considered pretentious and exclusive in Portland, OR? Lets, not argue about the meanings of different definitions of music, we're talking about boardgames here.


Great, but if we are adapting a term from another area (music/films/wherever) then we have to accept all the baggage that comes with that term. So whatever people think about indie music, they'll associate it with "indie boardgames". Maybe that's "pretentious and exclusive" or maybe it's "low budget and not widespread". But whatever it is, "indie" is a loaded term.

(My first impression on hearing "indie boardgames" would be something like Game of Real Life, by the way.)

I'm definitely not trying to tear you down. I just don't think "indie" covers it. Plus, how do Betrayal at House on the Hill or Nexus Ops fit with that label?
 
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p55carroll
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Eldard wrote:


Why not cut to the chase by starting off with "I play strategy games" ?



Which is how Webster's defines board game: "a game of strategy (as chess, checkers, or backgammon) played by moving pieces on a board."

Not a perfect definition, IMO (e.g., in Go, you don't actually move pieces on a board), but pretty good.

 
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Teacher Fletcher
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Please, no.

"Indie" is among the most abused terms in the culture.

"Did you see that new 'indie' movie, Little Miss Sunshine?"
"Uh, yeah, but isn't it distributed by Miramax, owned by Disney?"
"INDIE!"

All commercially sold board games are also COMMERCIAL board games. The exception would be free PnP games.
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I just call them "board games" I had never referred monopoly, trivial pursuit and the likes as board games, monopoly was monopoly and trivial pursuit was trivial pursuit.
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Quote:
Re: A new term for our hobby . . . indie boardgames

so you are saying we should call hobby games indie games?

1. Why not just call them hobby games?

2. Indie games (or independent designers) is already taken. It's the small 1 person shops or designers that make games just like the ones the big mass market players make. Take a look at: http://www.discovergames.com/ or go to ChiTag ( http://www.chitag.com/ ) if you are unfamiliar with this segment of the industry....
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bartman347 wrote:
Your missing my point. "Mainstream" is a perfect word instead of "commercial". The point is the hobby is not really about the mainstream games, in that case "fringe or niche boardgames" might express better what your talking about.


Oh really?

The following have all been received very well, but are certainly "mainstream" due to their publisher:
Sorry! Sliders
Monopoly Deal Card Game
Scrabble Express

Many of the games we laud and praise in the states are considered 'children's games' over in their countries of origin in Europe.

This site has mechanics and categories describing various games: Worker placement, area of control, card driven engine, social, strategic, classic, wargame, miniatures, interactive, denial, resource management, party...

So why do we need to come up with some universal term that describes the games we play? They're games, and any further classification is unnecessary to a layman. Until they want to be educated further, it's just a game to them.

I have been extremely successful at introducing new boardgames to people who in the past only knew about traditional games (chess, go, backgammon) and the stuff you can find on the shelves in Target. Luckily some of the games which started as 'boutique' games (hows that for a term?) have made the jump, such as Settlers of Catan, Apples to Apples and Blockus.

Go to a site about photography and try to tell them that they have to classify themselves as 'indie photographers' or 'commerical photographers' and watch how quickly you get shot down. They have their own classification systems internal to their hobby, and those on the outside would be unable to 'speak photographer'.

Go to a site about rebuilding cars and try to tell them that they have to classify their hobby between 'indie cars' and 'commercial cars' and maybe you'll have a shot at a debate. Specialized terms, equipment and focuses fragment that hobby as well.

So too is our hobby fragmented. Some examples:
I enjoy what is generally referred to around here as 'eurogaming'.
I tolerate what is generally referred to around here as 'party games'.
I loathe and detest what is generally referred to around here as 'historical miniature wargaming'.


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Those who feel the need to divide everything into two neat categories
and those who don't.
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blindspot wrote:
"Indie" might definitely get the point across enough for them to make positive associations with things that are not mainstream and aim more at quality.


This made me laugh.

I usually associate 'indie' with
'pretentious'
'didn't have a lot of money'
'shakey camera work'
'singer with guitar telling us about how he was so poor he had to share a cup of tea with his dog'
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Lawnjob wrote:
Please, no.

"Indie" is among the most abused terms in the culture.

"Did you see that new 'indie' movie, Little Miss Sunshine?"
"Uh, yeah, but isn't it distributed by Miramax, owned by Disney?"
"INDIE!"

That label in your example still imparts a sense that there is something different about that movie, even if in reality it is produced and distributed by big entertainment.

I'll agree with you that the term is over-used and it does contain baggage, but putting it together with "board games" would be something new and not used much (less than 50 Google hits for the phrase "indie board games"), which means its still a fresh association. Indie was once fresh, and I think still can be if used in the right way.

I think people generally know what you mean when you say Indie film, and there are generally positive connotations for those who recognize it as a signifier of something different from the dross of mainstream, even if it occasionally is bullshit. I've seen worse labels put on music like "progressive" or "intelligent". When you begin to see labels like that you know the bullshit has piled up too high.
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byronczimmer wrote:
blindspot wrote:
"Indie" might definitely get the point across enough for them to make positive associations with things that are not mainstream and aim more at quality.


This made me laugh.

I usually associate 'indie' with
'pretentious'
'didn't have a lot of money'
'shakey camera work'
'singer with guitar telling us about how he was so poor he had to share a cup of tea with his dog'

I did say "aim".
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ElAdoranSureshot wrote:
... but if we are adapting a term from another area (music/films/wherever) then we have to accept all the baggage that comes with that term.

Really?
ElAdoranSureshot wrote:
I'm definitely not trying to tear you down.

Thanks.
ElAdoranSureshot wrote:
Plus, how do Betrayal at House on the Hill or Nexus Ops fit with that label?

I would call them, "indie games" because they're not mainstream.

P.S. the same kinds of objections are associated with the term "indie" in the film/music/etc. industries. But people seem to be able to live with them. If it does not work for you, feel free not to use "indie". A lot of people don't like the term with music or film either because it doesn't represent a particular genre or even if a major label signed a band or major studio made the film. It's a subtler or more nebulous term than that. It works for me and apparently a couple of other people like the term. That's fine for me. As long as someone finds it a useful contribution to boardgaming, even if it's just myself.

P.S.S. Personally, i don't use the term "hobby boardgames". It is, of course, quit true but I would feel self-conscious like "I was riding my hobby horse" or something. But if it works for you, right on!
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bartman347 wrote:
P.S. the same kinds of objections are associated with the term "indie" in the film/music/etc. industries. But people seem to be able to live with them.

No, actually it results in the immediate dismissal of the item in question by most of 'mainstream' America. If the goal is to introduce people to the joy of these types of games, it is critical that you not use a charged word like 'indie' to do it.

Quote:
If it does not work for you, feel free not to use "indie".

Huh? What? You originally said that everyone should use this new and shiny term!
Reminder:
Quote:
while "indie boardgames" would be euros, wargames and the rest

And again -- I love euros. I hate wargames. Why do I want them in the same category?

Quote:
A lot of people don't like the term with music or film either because it doesn't represent a particular genre or even if a major label signed a band or major studio made the film. It's a subtler or more nebulous term than that. It works for me and apparently a couple of other people like the term. That's fine for me. As long as someone finds it a useful contribution to boardgaming, even if it's just myself.

Introducing 'more ambigous' terms to 'clarify' something seems antithetical to the stated purpose.

Quote:
P.S.S. Personally, i don't use the term "hobby boardgames". It is, of course, quit true but I would feel self-conscious like "I was riding my hobby horse" or something. But if it works for you, right on!


Hobby: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hobby) A hobby is a spare time or recreational persuit)

Indie: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indie) No unified definition, but this catches the eye:
Indie role-playing game, published outside mainstream means

We're fringe - we know that. Our games don't (usually) come from places with 'mart' in the title, but come from small shops or online retailers.

"Indie" just sounds too "hippy" to me, and I had a visceral reaction to that word because I've been subjected to one too many "Napoleon Dynamite" experiences.

I think I shall classify you as a "Freizhenwobbler".
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